Franklyn-Ajaye
Franklyn Ajaye | Biography 2021

Quick Information

  • Full Name Franklyn Ajaye
  • Nickname The Jazz Comedian
  • Occupation Standup Comedian, Writer, Actor
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
  • Birth Date May 13, 1949
  • Age 72 Years, 5 Months
'Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy', 'Deadwood: The Movie'

Franklyn Ajaye | Biography 2021

Lillian’s Dad in 'Bridesmaids'

After dropping out of law school, Franklyn Ajaye made his first television appearance in an episode of the variety show, 'The Flip Wilson Show', in 1973. While he was doing comedy shows, he also continued appearing in television series.


Franklyn Ajaye is an African American stand-up comedian and actor. He is also a writer who received ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nominations twice for penning variety television shows.

Who is Franklyn Ajaye?

Franklyn Ajaye, a.k.a. The Jazz Comedian, began his career as a stand-up comedian in the 1970s. He soon became a popular television talk show guest who made appearances multiple times in shows like Keep on Truckin’Denah!Late Night with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Along with his stand-up career, Ajaye made a foray into an acting career and appeared in films such as Car Wash (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), The ‘Burbs (1989), Bridesmaids (2011), and more. He also appeared in television series such as Pirate Islands in 2003, and Deadwood from 2005 to 2006. Besides acting, Ajaye penned several television shows, including In Living Color and Politically Incorrect, which garnered him with shared ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nominations in 1990 and 1997, respectively. Ajaye has also authored a book titled ‘Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy,’ containing advice for aspiring comedians.

Early Life and Education

Franklyn Ajaye was born in Brooklyn, New York, the United States, on 13 May 1949. Ajaye was born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Los Angeles by a Sierra Leonean father, after whom he is named, and an American mother, named Quetta. He attended The University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1968. Later he went to Columbia Law School in 1971 but dropped out of the school to pursue a full-time career in stand-up comedy. 

Career

After dropping out of law school, Ajaye made his first television appearance in an episode of the variety show, The Flip Wilson Show, in 1973 and soon became a popular television talk-show guest. Between 1974 and 1980, he appeared in a string of television shows such as Cotton Club ‘75Keep on Truckin’Dinah!The Midnight SpecialSaturday Night LiveThe Mike Douglas ShowThe Comedy Shop, and The John Davidson Show. He appeared in three episodes of a popular show Late Night with David Letterman. He also starred as a guest comic in 19 episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson between 1974 and 1990Ajaye has performed his stand-up comedy in seven episodes of An Evening at the Improv between 1981 and 1994. 

In 1984, Ajaye starred as Walter Conkrite in the comedy television series Hot Flashes. He would later appear in HBO Comedy Showcase in 1995. Having decades of experience in the comedy world, he was featured in five episodes of the comedy talk show The Panel between 1998 and 2001. While he was doing comedy shows, he also continued appearing in television series. He played the role of Five Spice in the 2003 action-adventure television series Pirate Islands. From 2005 to 2006, he played Samuel Fields in the historical crime-drama series Deadwood, appearing in its 11 episodes. In addition, Ajaye was cast in the 2009 comedy documentary titled Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy. He also was featured in I Am Comic, a documentary about stand-up comedians’ professional setbacks.

Films

In 1969, Ajaye appeared in the comedy-drama short film Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales. In 1976, he essayed the role of Edmund in the crime comedy-drama film Sweet Revenge. The same year, he portrayed in the hit classic film Car Wash as TC “The Fly.” His next big-screen role was Spider Mike in the 1978 action-drama film Convey. He then played in the 1980 comedy-crime film Stir Crazy, in which he appeared in a role of a young man in hospital. The same year, he starred as Elvis in the comedy TV movie The Cheap Detective and as Bubba in the romantic musical drama film The Jazz Singera remake of Al Jolson’s 1927 film of the same title. In 1983, he played Leroy in the comedy horror film Hysterical and Cool in the musical comedy film Get Crazy. He continued playing movies and landed a role of detective in the 1989 dark comedy film The ‘Burbs, alongside Hollywood star Tom Hanks. He also appeared in movies like American Yakuza (1993) and Queen of the Damned (2002). He played a notable role as Lillian’s Dad in the 2011 romantic comedy film Bridesmaids. In 2019, he appeared in the TV movie Deadwood: The Movie, reprising the role of Samuel Fields, which he played in television series of the same name.

Screenwriting

Ajaye has written four episodes of ABC’s variety show Keep on Truckin’ in 1975. Between 1990 and 1992, he wrote 15 episodes of the sketch comedy television series In Living Color. He also penned 10 episodes of Townsend Television in 1993, which features guests from films, television, and music. Between 1995 and 1996, he wrote four episodes of the comedy sitcom The Parent ‘Hood. He also penned six episodes of Bill Maher’s comedy talk show Politically Incorrect from 1996 to 1997. The show features four guests from the politics and entertainment industry for a humorous discussion of current events.

Books

Ajaye has authored a book titled Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy, published on 1 September 2001 by Silman-James Press. Ajaye wrote the book targeting aspiring stand-up comedians and featured advice and conversations with many contemporary top comedians, including Louie Anderson, Roseanne, Paul Reiser, and George Wallace. 

Awards and Nominations

Along with other co-writers, Ajaye has received two ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nominations for ‘Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program’ for In Living Color in 1990 and Politically Incorrect in 1997.

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